First Pilgrims to cross Atlantic in 1621 did not land in either Cape Cod or Virginia!

Hints! They hired a Dutch ship for the trip and they were able to grow peaches, where they settled!

Part Two of the Forgotten Peoples of the Southern Highlands

by Richard Thornton, Architect and City Planner

Within two generations, most of their offspring were 3/4th Native American. Their descendants viewed themselves as indigenous!

In 1969, archaeologist Robert Wauchope wrote that a tractor trailer load of 16th and 17th European artifacts had been plowed up in the Nacoochee Valley. I have found the quarried stone foundations of Late Medieval style European houses on the crests of mountains, overlooking the Valley. Obviously, hundreds or thousands of Europeans came to the region and intermarried with the indigenous residents . . . their genes being carried by hundreds of thousands of North Americans today. With this in mind, archaeologists should be careful about linking a few beads or a single 16th century iron artifact to the Hernando de Soto’s and Juan Pardo’s expeditions. Native provinces traded European goods, back and forth, from the moment they became available.

It is one of those many, many historical facts that were left out of American History books by the New England academicians, who first wrote them. For 18 years, I have been sleuthing university libraries and online to find eye-witness accounts of the Early Colonial Era in the Americas, which can tell me more about the indigenous people, who lived there, when Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

This man takes the cake for telling us facts about the Native Americans of the Southeast, which were erased by New England historians. Pasteur Charles de Rochefort (1605-1683) was the minister for Presbyterians and French Protestants in the Caribbean Basin in the 1650s.  He included 10 chapters on what is now Georgia and western North Carolina in his highly popular 1658 book, Histoire naturelle et morale des îles Antilles de l’AmériqueIt was translated into English, Dutch and German then went through six publications.  It only lost popularity in the early 1700s, after germs and slave raiders from the newly established Colony of Carolina wiped out the advanced indigenous culture, which he described.

In 2013,  Marilyn Rae and I translated the ten chapters on Georgia then published an annotated account of those chapters.  The book is entitled, The Apalache Chronicles and is available from Ancient Cypress Press and Amazon. Marilyn grew up in the northern Shenandoah Valley, about 20 minutes from my farm there, and is fluent is several Romance languages, plus has a heavy background in Renaissance European History.

Like most French Protestant ministers of his era, De Rochefort was extremely well-educated and seriously religious . . . but also thoroughly enjoyed the companionship and nurturing of his wife. He had broad university education, but was most interested in Natural Science and Religion.  He would have been considered the holder of a PhD today.

De Rochefort’s book is still a highly respected reference in Europe, but is virtually unknown in the United States and Canada.  The original reason it was concealed by British scholars in the 1700s, is that he provided fascinating documentation of the efforts by the French Protestants and the kings of France to establish colonies in the Americas. 

Once the United States were independent, New England professors and authors began producing most of the young nation’s scholarly books.   As tensions rose between the Northeast and Southeast, these intellectuals tossed De Rochefort’s book into the trash heap . . . or in the case of Brown University’s library, condemned it to the Fantasy and Utopia bin, where it gathered dust.  The reason? . . . the New Englanders found De Rochefort’s description of an advanced American Indian civilization in the mountains of Georgia to be ludicrous.  The logic was that if Southern whites were dull-witted and ignorant, then the Indians in the South had to be likewise. 

My first response to De Rochefort’s book also was also that he was fantasizing.  I was still naïve in my belief that such a different version of the Southeast’s history could not be true, because surely some professor somewhere, would have also discovered this information. 

Apalache temples glistened like gold because of the mica.

Then I noticed something.  De Rochefort provided detailed descriptions of Creek domestic architecture, plus the construction of timber palisades and earthen mounds, which North American archaeologists did not know until the late 20th century.  One of the most interesting architectural details was the mixing of mica with the clay stucco applied to public buildings and elite houses. The mica caused the temples to “glisten like gold.” De Rochefort stated that the mica-reinforced stucco was the origin of the Spanish tales of cities built of gold in Apalache . . . and the seven golden cities of Cibola.

Furthermore,  De Rochefort’s knowledge of the spelling and grammar of Itza Maya, Creek and Panoan words were right on target. He knew that the Creek’s ancestors had come from Mexico and Peru.  In many ways, he was much more knowledgeable about the history and culture of the Creek People than most Southeastern anthropologists today.  This book was for real.

The chapters on Southeastern North America

De Rochefort called present-day Georgia, South Carolina and western North Carolina, Floridie Française.  He placed Fort Caroline on the south side of the mouth of the Altamaha River and accurately stated that the French government planned to build the capital of New France, where the University of Georgia is now located, so that French and Apalache merchants could be business partners.  French Huguenot entrepreneurs planned to trade European goods and technology for Apalache gold. They envisioned Fort Caroline as a port that specialized in building ships and selling lumber to Europe.

De Rochefort obtained his information on Southeastern indigenous peoples and natural features from Dutch, Jewish and French Protestant sea captains an traders, plus Richard Brigstock, an English planter from Barbados.  During the English Civil War,  Barbados was a Royalist enclave.  After the island was surrounded by the English Commonwealth fleet in 1653,  Brigstock paid a Dutch ship to take him to the mouth of the Savannah River. The Barbados colonists were interested in reestablishing their plantations in the Kingdom of Apalachete.  He then made his way up to present-day Northeast Georgia, where he was hosted by the Paracusa (High King) of Apalache for almost a year.

Brigstock traveled extensively around the High King’s realm, including a stay with Spanish-speaking gem miners in North Carolina, but ultimately decided not to relocate to Apalache because slavery was forbidden.  Brigstock’s family soon moved to Virginia, but most of the Barbados immigrants moved to the coastal regions of South Carolina.

The Apalache Pilgrims in Leiden, Holland. They were affluent intellectuals and country squires, who could afford the comfort of a Dutch fluyt ship. Their descendants today are of mixed Native American-European ancestry. Edward Graeves (letter below) was a university-trained lawyer and a natural scientist. He apparently arrived in Apalache several decades after the original colony was founded.

The first Pilgrims

The first English colonists in Georgia is one of many stories told by Brigstock to De Rochefort.  Brigstock stated that several parties of Separatists returned to England from the Netherlands with aspirations of relocating to Virginia. The first to leave in 1621 were affluent intellectuals and professionals.  They could afford to hire a Dutch fluyt

This recently invented type of ship was designed to facilitate transoceanic delivery with the maximum of space and crew efficiency. Unlike the slow, old-fashioned Mayflower (a carrack) it was not built for conversion to a warship, so it was cheaper to build and carried twice the cargo of a carrack.  Also, the fluyt could be handled by a smaller crew, so operating costs were lower.

Unlike the much better-known Pilgrims, these affluent Pilgrims had an astute captain, who left in the spring and in a much faster ship.  However, when they arrived in Jamestown, a smallpox plague was raging through the colony and hostile Indians were about to attack.  The colony of New Netherland would not be founded until 1624, so that was not an option

The captain had been ferrying Sephardic Jews to the present-day coast of Georgia and South Carolina.  These refugees were making their way inland to the Kingdom of Apalache to the Piedmont and Appalachian Mountains, where they were establishing village.  The climate of Apalache was said to be ideal and its natural scenery, beautiful.  He suggested that they give Apalache a try.

The congregation voted to give Apalache a try.  Once they reached what is now Northeast Georgia, they were shocked to learn that the Apalache elite were Protestant Christians.  They had been converted to Christianity by survivors of Fort Caroline, who had established the town of Melilot in the spring of 1566.   Melilot is on most French and English maps from 1570 to 1700, but is ignored by North American academicians.

This 1620 map shows the ruins of Fort Caroline to be still visible along the Altamaha River and that Melilot had grown to being a town. Lake May (Lake Tama) is now the Little Ocmulgee River Swamp. Note Jamestown and the Colony of Virginia in the upper right hand corner of the map. At this point in time, Melilot is shown as being much larger and more important than Jamestown . . . but is not mentioned in a single American History book.

The High King of Apalache granted them land for a village and an English-speaking church.  At that time, there were only French and Apalache-speaking congregations.  There were two conditions, however, which he required of all immigrants from across the Atlanta.  The men would have to agree to form a militia to help defend the kingdom against invaders . . . at that time, the main concern was the Spanish and pirates. The second condition was that all single adults would have to marry a Native American.  

This was not as great a concern to the Pilgrims, when they learned that their spouse would be a Christian – probably part French or Dutch. Well, the Apalache were tall, handsome, intelligent people.  As a result of this edict by the king, by the time the third generation of Pilgrims was born, they would grow up thinking themselves to be Native Americans.

It is not known why Melilot disappeared at the end of the 17th century. The most likely cause was the Great Appalachian Smallpox Epidemic of 1696.  It was a particularly virulent strain of smallpox, which could cause a person’s nose to fall off . . . and it had an extremely high mortality rate.

We do know that Melilot was still thriving in 1660. Below are the beginning and the end of a long letter, written in French on January 6, 1660, by Edward Graeves to Charles de Rochefort. The letter included sketches for the correct appearance of the Appalachian Mountains, plus the architecture of the Apalache. Unfortunately, the sketches were never converted to engravings and published.

There is no explanation how the letter was physically transported from NE Georgia across the Atlantic Ocean to Rotterdam, Holland, where De Rochefort then lived. Graeves complained in the letter about the lack of commerce between Apalache and Europe, but obviously there were some contacts.

And now you know!

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